Perhaps you are wondering what a lion-headed god serpent has to do with Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). Well, stay tuned. I have been mulling over the article I read and posted a few days ago, and the layers of that onion just kept coming off–to the point that a Part 3 to this topic may be necessary.
First, the points of contact: I agree with the author that much CCM contains sensual, vague language suited as much for a love interest as for Jesus (perhaps less suited for Jesus). This is one of the reasons I believe men specifically have been leaving our churches in mass exodus. I agree with the author that there probably is a lot of immorality in the CCM scene. Unfortunately for our author, the Corinthian church experienced rampant immorality, some of it “of a kind that is not tolerated even among the pagans” (1 Cor. 5:1), yet Paul still calls them “those sanctified in Jesus Christ, called to be saints together” (1 Cor. 1:2). Saints. You find me a church without immorality, and I will find you a group of liars (1 John 1:8). Sin in a ministry is not necessarily an argument against it.
Before I continue, let me make a distinction. CCM is a genre as much as Country, Pop, or Slow Jams is a genre. There is a reason why you recognize a CCM radio station immediately–and it’s not because of the words. CCM cultivates its own style with producers and musicians marketing to a distinct listener palate. I believe the dichotomy Secular/Christian is so very unhelpful. Rather, music is either glorifying to God or it is not. Even some “Secular” music can be more glorifying to God than much CCM on the radio waves (I can already tell I’m gonna need a Part 3 to this).
To the primary issue (I will deal with lesser issues in a forthcoming article). The distinction the author makes between the body and spirit is disturbing. His arguments against the way rhythm, scooping notes, and syncopated beats affect the body immediately reminded me of the gnosticism fought by apostles like John, and early church leaders like Augustine. One of the major tenets of gnostics, for instance the Manicheans whom Augustine dabbled with before coming to Christ, was dualism. This belief insisted that the body and the physical world were created by a dark god, the Demiurge, who intended to trap or pollute the spiritual world which was created by the God of Light.
The result was a religion that sought freedom from the body; the physical realm needed to pass away so that the spiritual would fully thrive. Our author’s understanding of music is founded in a similar view of the human being. He decries any music that appeals to the body and claims the words and the sung melody must take precedence. The problem for our author is that such a sharp distinction between soul and body is impossible–for music by necessity must enter our soul by way of (gasp) the ears…a body part. His argument that music must appeal to the spirit, soul, then body, in that order, is impossible.
What is even more disturbing are the implications of our author’s claims. I do not wholly blame him, because American Christianity has bought (for what reason I do not know) into the lie that truly spiritual Christianity desires separation from the body. Unfortunately, they are at odds with such lowly Christians as Paul the Apostle, who struggled, strained, and fought with all of his might to identify with Jesus “so that by any means possible I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:11). It is the hope of all Christians, not to be separated from our dying bodies, but to see our bodies recreated, renewed, and resurrected imperishable forever.
I would challenge you to think about where you place your hope and faith. Do you hope for the resurrection? As a believer, does your future resurrection even cross your mind? The image of God is both body and soul, and we do not have a hope to be half-humans for eternity, but whole body-and-soul images of God perfected in Christ.
I promise we will address less weighty, perhaps a bit more snarky responses to our author’s–quite bombastic at times–claims about music…but that will have to wait.